Tirunelveli (TN): Breaking the brief truce, more than 7,000 people on Sunday observed a token fast against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant (KNPP) and vowed to intensify the struggle if the government did not scrap it.

The renewed protest comes two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured a multi-party delegation including the anti-KNPP activists that an expert group would be set up to allay their safety concerns.

Slamming Singh's letter to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa seeking her support to ensure timely implementation of the Indo-Russian project, protesters said it only showed the Centre was not concerned about the safety of people.

The fast at Idinthakarai near Koodankulam in the district was led by Co-ordinator of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy S P Udhayakumar, a member of the delegation that had met Singh.

Udhayakumar told reporters the fast was only "a beginning of their long struggle" against nuclear power and it would be intensified if the KNPP was not scrapped.

After meeting the Prime Minister, the activists had claimed it was their first victory. But now they are irked by Singh's letter to Jayalalithaa seeking her help to complete KNPP.

Udhayakumar said the contents of the letter, dashed off on the same day when they met Singh, only showed that the "Centre is not concerned about the safety and security of the Tamils."

Despite the state cabinet's resolution for halting work on the project, the Centre had chosen to go ahead with it. "This is painful," he said.

People, including fishermen, from 13 villages participated in the fast on Sunday. The Prime Minister had told the delegation, led by Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O Paneerselvam, that nothing would be done that would threaten the safety or livelihood of any section of society, particularly those living in the vicinity of a project.

But pitching for pursuing atomic power, Singh in the letter to Jayalalithaa said listed out series of safety measures and clearances obtained for KNPP and said he counted on her support for its timely implementation.

While the Tamil Nadu Government and political parties in their memorandum sought halting of the work till the safety concerns are addressed, the anti-KNPP activists demanded that the project be scrapped.

The villagers have stepped up protests against KNPP since August after officials said the first of the two 1000 MWe Russian reactors would be commissioned in December.

Over 120 people had staged a 12-day fast at Idinthakarai which was called off on Sept 22 after Jayalalithaa agreed for a cabinet resolution urging the Centre to halt the work on KNPP and arrange for a meeting with the Prime Minister.

 (Agencies)